There are numerous words in our English Bible that aren’t translated, but transliterated. Sometimes that’s not a big deal, but there are some cases that it’s at best a theological cop-out and at worst purposeful deceit.
An example of transliteration, rather than translation, is rendered baptizo as baptize rather than dip, plunge, immerse, or drench.
With baptizo I understand. I once read a list of the various ways baptizo is used in Greek literature. It’s used even of a wave “baptizing” a beach. In almost every case, the object being “baptized” was completely soaked.
On the other hand, the Didache, a very early church manual. mentions that while immersing in a flowing river or stream was the preferred means of baptism, it’s acceptable to pour three times over the head as well. The Didache was written in Greek, so we English-speakers can’t accuse the writer of misunderstanding baptizo.
Others, though, I’m not okay with.
Angelos is used 186 times in the New Testament. 179 of those times, it’s rendered as “angel,” which means it’s transliterated, not translated.
The word means messenger, not angel. It’s stupid—there’s probably a better word I should be using—to render it angel. Worse, it’s not very honest to render it angel 179 times, then never let people know that in the few cases where it refers to an earthly messenger, rather than a heavenly one, you translated it as messenger.
For example, when the Scriptures talk about John the Baptist being sent as a messenger to prepare the way of the Lord, it uses the word angelos (Matt. 11:2; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27). Jesus sent messengers into Samaria in Luke 9:52. The word there is also angelos (well, angeloi, the plural). John’s messengers, sent to ask Jesus whether he was really the one, are referred to with the same word (Luk. 7:24).
Hebrew’s worse. Malak is rendered angel 111 times, messenger 98 times, and ambassador 4 times.
Don’t you think we’d understand better if angelos and malak were actually translated? Gabriel’s not an angel, he’s a messenger. Yes, he’s a heavenly messenger, and a powerful being, but he’s a messenger. That’s what the word means.
(Jeremiah Briggs has this image for sale.)
I have a whole web page on this one. This one irritates me because I find it dishonest.
There are seraphim mentioned in Isaiah 6. They fly, and they cry out praises to God night and day. They have six wings.
There are seraphim mentioned in Numbers 21, too. They bit the children of Israel in the wilderness. They were poisonous, and the children of Israel died.
There, in Numbers, the translators, who can’t seem to figure out what the word seraph means in Isaiah, have no problems rendering it “snake” or “serpent.”
It’s funny, though, in Isaiah 14:29 and Isaiah 30:6, they don’t seem to have problems figuring out that seraph means snake or serpent, either. It’s only in Isaiah 6.
Maybe we just don’t like the idea of flying snakes in heaven.
I like it. I call them “dragons.”
This one really bugs me, too.
Diakonos is in the New Testament 31 times. It’s only rendered “deacon” three times; in 1 Tim. 3:8 and 3:12 and Php. 1:1.
That’s ridiculous religious terminology. Give me a break. Translate the word! It’s SERVANT, thank you … SERVANT!
The really ridiculous translation is when the word is used as a verb, diakoneo. That’s in the NT 37 times, and they transliterate it, sort of, just twice, both times in 1 Tim. 3.
You can’t really transliterate it, though. “Deacon” is not a verb. So, when they don’t want to correctly translate it, like they did the other 35 times it’s found in the NT, and they instead want to lie to you, deceive you, trick you, and get in the way of your following God, they have a problem.
So they got around it by turning the one word, diakonos, which simply means “serve,” into “USE THE OFFICE OF DEACON.”
In 1 Timothy 3, we should be reading about the fact that one has to qualify to be a servant in the house of God. It’s a position of honor, and those who serve well (not “use the office of deacon well”) obtain good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Grumble, grumble, grumble. Now I’m all irritated.
I hate dishonesty. Both goats and wolves mingle comfortably with God’s sheep because their “shepherds” are not honest, brave, trustworthy, properly taught, or really even shepherds at all. I want to run them all out so that God’s sheep, so few as they may be, can actually be the flock of God, shepherded by real shepherds raised up by Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd.